"This is the epicenter:" Ouita Michel on Kentucky's Food

Sometimes, even a tiny, old camera is better than none. Last fall in Lexington's Rupp Arena, I turned on my small, outdated camera as fast as I could and started shooting the star power in front of me. In spite of the site, remarkably, the subject was not basketball. Instead, spotlights shone on Kentucky Chef Ouita Michel, who owns Holly Hill Inn, Wallace Station Deli and Bakery, and Windy Corner Market, and is Executive Chef at Woodford Reserve distillery.

As a featured chef in the 2010 Incredible Food Show, Ouita had just completed a cooking demonstration featuring "Locally raised, slow-roasted veal stuffed with cornbread dressing spiked with local chestnuts and veal sausage in a rich sauce of Evan's apple cider and Woodford Reserve with roasted apples and kabocha squash," using "Dudley Tapp's Veal from On Tapp Dairy in Springfield, KY, Weisenberger Mill's cornmeal, Happy Jack's kabocha squash, & Evan's Orchard's apples and apple cider. Even the chestnuts are local!"

Ouita caught the spirit from a questioner and started preaching a rousing sermon on Kentucky food. I started fumbling for my camera just as I heard her say "I want to be that expression of what is truly Kentucky" -- which she is.

The tiny bit of footage I shot could more accurately be called inch-age. It is not well lit, well-shot, or well-recorded, but you will like it. It's a tiny jewel of a sermon, and it's too fun to keep to myself.

I did a little rearranging and prefaced the video with some still photos of the kinds of beautiful Kentucky foods Ouita describes. I offer the results as a gift to you, to Ouita, and to the excellent people who produce the Incredible Food Show.

If the video does not show up automatically for you, access it here.

One more thing: I just read a memoir of a 38-year old man's two years at the Culinary Institute of America, where Ouita received her formal chef's training. I wondered how many of the author's stories would ring true for Ouita. The book is Beaten, Seared, and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America, by Jonathan Dixon. Reading it led to my completing a long-term plan to add a book and media review section to this blog. So this is the the "soft opening" for Rona's Reviews: Savory Books and Media, accessed from the right column of any page.

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